Race Recap – New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 5K & 10K

Race Recap – New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 5K & 10K

I guess this will be the first year since 2013 that I did not run at least 12 races. It was some personal goal I made up when I first started running in order to make the whole experience of running in races and writing recaps an enjoyable one.

But now I find myself picking and choosing which events to run based on my training plans. Before this 10k in October, I had only run two races for the year…two marathons at that.

In my quest to become a more competitive runner (particularly marathoner), my goals have shifted in focus, and I guess that reflects in the frequency I write up these race recaps. I still enjoy writing them though—it’s just taken me forever due to the fact I’m still way behind on my posting schedule!


It was my first time running the New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 10K, and race day was definitely before World Series fever. I was excited to get back into the racing mindset, and the timing, theme, and setting of this race seemed perfect.

Since the race start was at Dodger’s Stadium early on a Sunday morning, and I was still over in Santa Monica, the best thing for me to do to get there on time was to Uber. I wasn’t expecting to have my ear talked off, but there was a passenger already in the car. Despite it being 4:30am, he had a lot of energy and would not. Stop. Talking.

I honestly wanted to close my eyes and try to get any amount of sleep possible, but I wasn’t successful. I did eventually get to one of the Dodger Stadium entrances, and got out immediately.

How about "let's go runners!" ??
How about “let’s go runners!” ??

It was still dark outside, and I hoped that by walking close to some of the vendors setting up, I’d be able to snag a pre-race bar or two.

Fortunately, KIND bar had read my mind, as their booth was readily handing out bars to people passing by.

I was also able to snack on some sample pieces of Lenny and Larry’s cookies since Vitamin Shoppe also had a tent set up, and they were serving up cookie pieces in small cups.

Soon after, people begain to line up at the start and I found my place in the beginning of the pack. I did my best to pace myself at the start, but I did start off pretty fast, going at 7:19/mi. I blame the horde of anxious runners around me!

I did stabilize my pace around mile 1, after getting past the first steep hill. From that point on, I hovered around an 8:00-8:12/mi pace.

I soon realized that this course would not go down as one of my favorites. There were too many surprising hills, gravel-coated roads, twists, and turns. There were a number of steep inclines followed by fast downhills. It balanced out my pace, but it was a beating on my legs—especially since it was my first race running with a forefoot-based form.

Bird's eye view
Bird’s eye view

I found myself having to push physically and mentally by the time we hit mile 5. The last mile had to be the most boring in design ever. We were literally running around a parking lot…

But I did finish at an average pace of 8:17/mi!

Ultimately, I found it a straightforward, but challenging course with unnecessary add-on. I mean, why did there have to be hills??


I grabbed an apple from a table positioned near the post-race walk path, and guzzled down a bottle of aloe water.

I later learned that I ended up placing third in my age division, and so I was given two free tickets to a Dodger’s game—next year, haha! Even though I’ve never been a big sports fan, having the chance to go to a game for free sounded like an opportunity that would be a shame to miss out on.

Two free baseball game tickets...for next year...
Two free baseball game tickets…for next year…

After walking around the race area for a bit, I walked out of the stadium towards Chinatown station. My next stop was a light brunch in Pasadena, Urth Caffe style.

Urth is probably now considered an LA staple, and after visiting a number of their locations over the years, I was surprised that I waited this long to go to the one in Pasadena. But going post-race was the perfect reason to go.

One thing I’ve learned is that there will always be crowds. That’s why the local chain has been around this long…

There's always gonna be a line. Why do I even act surprised??
There’s always gonna be a line. Why do I even act surprised??

But I came prepared knowing what to get: the Italia Tiramisu, and a chai latte.

Dining outside
Dining outside

I was seated in the front outside, and slowly dug into the tiramisu while I waited for my latte to come out. But unlike the Matcha and Earl Grey tiramisus I’ve had in the past, I found the dark chocolate shavings and strong coffee flavor of the Italia Tiramisu not in my favor.

Eh, I'll pass on this one next time.
Eh, I’ll pass on this one next time.

The latte was warm, but lacked flavor. Where was the chai? Even with the lack of flavor, I can’t deny that overall it was a satisfying post-race treat!

Lacked flavor, but it was warm & satisfying
Lacked flavor, but it was warm & satisfying

Urth Caffe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Summer Winding Down

Summer Winding Down

The weekend my sister arrived to settle in the OC was also the weekend one of my lab mates was hosting a potluck at his house. It’s been years since anyone in our lab has gone out of their way to organize a lab get-together outside of lab, and so I have to give credit to my friend for taking on the challenge, haha!

Since my sister had the car now, she was invited so she could give us a ride ;).  Nah, she was welcome too. 

We carpooled with E and another lab mate and drove to West Covina east of LA. It took us an hour in headache-inducing traffic, and we were the last group to arrive. My friend who was hosting (let’s call him J) and his wife greeted us, and led us out to the backyard where the pool and food spread was. 
We got settled in with some plates of food, and sat by the pool while we ate. Everyone except E, my sister, and I made it to the pool sometime during our stay, but I was too lazy to even dip my feet in. 
We left around 4 in order to avoid traffic, and still faced stopped cars on all sides. By the time we dropped off my lab mate and E, it was almost 6! My sis wanted to get dinner since she wasn’t able to properly eat over the week due to stress from moving and settling in, and I was eager to oblige. I knew how much she liked Tocaya, so we paid their Venice location a visit. 
Tocaya, Venice
Tocaya, Venice
We found free street parking a few blocks away, and didn’t hesitate to park and power walk. Our hunger had caught up to us at that point, and we couldn’t afford to look at the menu for too long. 
A much cozier vibe.
A much cozier vibe.
I ended up getting a Shredded Kale and Quinoa salad, while my sis ordered the bowl she fell in love with during our last visit
Shredded Kale and Quinoa
Shredded Kale and Quinoa – quinoa & shredded kale tossed with white beans, avocado, chipotle-dusted almonds, chile lime pepitas seeds, pico de gallo & red-wine vinaigrette with chipotle-dusted tofu & vegan chipotle jack

My salad bowl was decent, but if it had not been for the dressing, it would have fallen flat. Even the tofu was slightly rubbery (and I prefer chewy tofu over the soft white kind!).

After dinner, we walked home with the humid beach air clinging over us, and despite there being no cooling beach breeze that night, we were able to sleep pretty soundly just from pure exhaustion.

The next morning, the weather was too great to pass up the opportunity to do something, so my sis and I hurried to lab soon after my long run. I had a ton of work to do, but she was willing to help me out and we were done in the afternoon. 

Destination O.T. Pasadena!
Destination O.T. Pasadena!
I let her pick where we should go for lunch, and after reading my “foodie bucket list” excel sheet (yes I have one, lol), Slater’s 50/50 in Pasadena sounded the most appetizing.
She drove, and while we did hit traffic passing by downtown, it was an easy, sunny drive to Pasadena once we got past all that. We found parking in Old Town on a side street, and walked over to the restaurant which was already packed with Sunday afternoon lunch-goers. 
Odd decor!
Odd decor!
We were able to get booth seating, and started off with Vampire Dip as an appetizer, and then decided to split the Veggie Burger because we predicted it would be a lot of food. Annnnd, we were right, haha!
The Vampire Dip was a cheesy, garlic concoction that was super thick, and its consistency was more like a melted cheese ball than a smooth bowl of dip. It came served in a bread bowl, with some flatbread crisps and veggies for dipping. 
Vampire Dip!
Vampire Dip!
I think the crew at Slater’s 50/50 knows how big their portions are, because our burger came to us already cut in half! 
Eat Your Veggies ~ veggie patty, red peppers, avocado mash, cucumbers, sage & garlic aioli, honey wheat bun
Eat Your Veggies ~ veggie patty, red peppers, avocado mash, cucumbers, sage & garlic aioli, honey wheat bun

My sis also felt like getting a shake, but finishing it was a whole other issue πŸ˜›

Half a burger was enough, not sure what my sis was thinking when she thought she could finish the shake!
Half a burger was enough, not sure what my sis was thinking when she thought she could finish the shake!

After getting our fill, it was mid-afternoon and I wanted my sis to have enough time to drive back down to the OC.

So much yes.

Of course, I asked if we could stop by a nearby Grocery Outlet (this time the one in Rosemead), so I could get my cheap groceries for the week! My sis didn’t argue, seeing that she could benefit from the trip as well. Cheap food to off-set gas costs, haha!

Slater's 50/50 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – South Pasadena Tiger Run 5k/10k

Race Recap – South Pasadena Tiger Run 5k/10k

I cannot believe I am actually saying this…but pretty much since after Thanksgiving weekend, it has been FREEZING here in LA. Now, freezing by definition here means anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t take more than a cooler-than-usual wind chill to cause misery.

Last Saturday, I made my way over to South Pasadena to participate in a 5k race I signed up for by “accident”. I intended to register for the 10k, but somehow during the registration process, I ended up enrolling in the 5k! I didn’t regret that choice however, since I’ve been wanting to PR in the distance at a race for a couple months now…at least since my last 5k race in Owasso back in August.

My arms were numb at this point…

I was NOT prepared for the bone-chilling cold that kept me frozen on my way to So Pas. I had a long sleeve base and put a t-shirt on top to keep warm, but I still had to cross my arms in order to not feel cold (even if it was a placebo effect).

Fortunately, I made it to the high school where the race was taking place, and immediately found warmth in the school’s cafeteria, where packet pick-up was also being held.

Packet pick-up inside a warm, insulated building (:

Ofcourse like every race I’ve attended as of late, there was NO BAG CHECK. UGH!

I loaded up my belt as much as I could, and put everything else that wouldn’t fit (i.e. the race long sleeve shirt) into a drawstring bag that I then tied so tightly around my chest that it looked like a bra (lol…).

I’ve been needing more long sleeves…

In the time remaining until the race start, I stretched, used the restroom, and even did a warm-up around the track to feel like a “professional runner” and all.

For it being a local race, it had a pretty big turn-out. There were a lot of runners—especially those who were confident enough to toe the very front of the line. I kept it modest and didn’t stand too far in front, but I did stand within the front of the pack in hopes of finding someone I could pace with and hit a PR as a result.

They did a poor job with the send-off, since none of us even heard an alarm or someone signal us to go. I dashed as soon as the person in front of me jerked forward, and even though I had warmed up, I feared that I had pulled a muscle because I had started so abruptly.

Despite starting so fast, I held myself together and kept a consistent pace that did slow down as time went on, but still averaged at a 7:37/mi by the end of it.

The air was so cold that my lungs burned with each breath. In the past, I would have dreaded this immensely and would have found the situation to be unbearable. In this race however, I actually felt invigorated by it. I didn’t even mind a hill that came up around half way…before I knew it, I could see the finish line on the track in the distance.

I slowed my stride as I passed the finish and gulped down the first water bottle in sight. I stuck around to see if I had placed in my age group, despite there not being any good booths or post-race freebies. Most of the booths were fundraising-based booths for South Pasadena High School. Don’t expect me to bring money if you don’t offer bag check! 

So many booths, no cash. The seaweed was free though.

An hour after my finish, they announced race awards. I learned that I did place, and I received a medal that was far from a shabby dollar store trinket.

Yay! A race PR (:

To celebrate the speedy 5k finish, I took the train back one stop to Highland Park, and walked a few blocks down to a very much in-trend bakery shop—Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

All Butter Everything…

It was 10am, and there was already a line. The Highland Park hipsters were already seated, munching and chatting while eating pretty little desserts by the box.

“I got baked in Los Angeles”

I was seriously overwhelemed. I had no need to keep my phone photo-taking a secret—I whipped out my phone for all to see and captured every angle…especially of these baby beauties.

Gourmet donuts and cruffins!

My eyes immediately landed on the creme-filled donuts. Something about their soft, sugary bread and fruity cream top spoke to me I guess.

So classy, yet down-to-earth at the same time 🍩 πŸ’•πŸ’• ✌️

I got a cranberry-filled creme donut and felt like a princess, even though I was still in my running clothes. I thought the creme filling would taste like frosting, but it actually had the texture of greek yogurt? It caught me slightly off guard, but it was still a delicious treat! Because of the random creme filling not really being the creme I expected, I didn’t feel the need to take home a giant box of their treats like I saw others doing. Perhaps one day I’ll come back just to try the cruffin though!

Love how the theme is carried over even into the take-out bags! 🍩 πŸ’•πŸ’• ✌️

When I came home, I just had to try another “dessert” even though I was on a slight endorphin/sugar high. Quest Labs released a chocolate chip protein cookie, but the appearance of the chocolate chunks spooked me out, haha!

Not gonna lie, the new protein “cookie” from Quest Labs kinda spooked me out with all those chocolate chunks. Alien cookie much πŸ‘½ πŸͺ ? Overall, I found it to be thin, slightly doughy, and tasted more like a flattened out Quest CCCD bar. In that regard I guess it tastes alright, but this ain’t Lenny and Larry’s 😏

Overall, I wasn’t amazed by the concept or the outcome of their protein “cookie”. To me, it just looked like a flattened out version of their CCCD protein bar.

I’m waiting for the day a protein donut will come into existence. I’ll be even more shocked if they sell it at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. And you bet I’d be the first one in line if they were giving it away for free at a booth of a race expo πŸ˜‰

Mr Holmes Bakehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Race for the Rescues 5k/10k

Race Recap – Race for the Rescues 5k/10k

Last week, the signs of a true fall began to take shape. Will LA finally have a fall that doesn’t feel like the depths of summer?? Only time will tell, but if the past week is any indication for what’s to come, maybe I will get to wear some of my sweaters gathering dust!

Early on in the week, I participated in the unofficial scavenger hunt for Halo Top, since they released 10 new flavors on the 10th. I managed to find a (now) older flavor the day before the new flavors were released, but since my second trip to Ralph’s was later on in the week, my options were down to Pistachio.

Halo Top Chocolate Chip Mocha
Halo Top Chocolate Chip Mocha

I have been looking for the Chocolate Mocha Chip flavor forever, and finally finding it made me feel less disappointed that I wasn’t able to get first dibs on the newest of the new. Even though the chocolate flavor wasn’t overbearing, I thought it was a boring flavor overall. The chocolate chips were minuscule, and looked more like small pieces of crushed nuts rather than actual chocolate. And because they were so small, it was hard to detect any flavor.

Halo Top Pistachio
Halo Top Pistachio

The color they picked for the Pistachio packaging was very eye-catching…just as appealing as the color of the smooth-textured ice cream itself. I had this on a Thursday evening after what was a rough day in lab. This flavor was the perfect form of therapy.

Lenny & Larry's Pumpkin Spice
Lenny & Larry’s Pumpkin Spice

On the cookie front, I took a break from my Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle addiction to try a flavor that’s more in season—Pumpkin Spice! I’m sure it would have tasted decadent warmed up, but since the spice was baked into the cookie, it didn’t blow me away like Snickerdoodle has this entire time. At least I gave it a shot, but I guess pumpkin spice doesn’t woooooo me as much as it does other people πŸ˜›

On Saturday, I participated in a 10k and was excited to see if my speed workouts from the past month had any benefit. The race was being held in Pasadena, and while this wouldn’t have been a big deal when I was living close to DTLA, it now was since I moved farther out west. The total transit time via bus and metro train would have been a little over two hours, meaning I would have had to wake up at 4 just to make it to an 8:30am race!

I made a compromise with myself and instead of sacrificing sleep, I traveled to downtown by train and then took an Uber to Pasadena. I try to only use Uber or Lyft only when absolutely necessary (like when leaving the airport at 11pm at night for example), but in this case, time was of the essence and it was worth $13 for a 20 minute ride versus a dirt cheap two hour one!

Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday morning and race shirt.

The race took place near the Rose Bowl Stadium, so I knew the weather conditions and course would be far from breezy. When I got there at 7:30 though, it was still cloudy and the air was still cool. I picked up my bib and shirt, and since there was no bag check, I wore the shirt over the one I was already wearing. I couldn’t exactly stuff it in my running belt since that was already holding my keys and phone, and that alone causing to bulge and hang lower on my hips. This was going to be fun to deal with.

Some of the booths set up

I spent the next hour or so admiring the canines, adoring the felines, and getting a light amount of fuel from Power Crunch bar samples. They were “supposed” to be for after the race but the volunteers were chatting with each other and not paying attention… hehe.

Come for the run, stay for the fur

When it got close to 8:30am, all of the runners were asked to walk towards the race start. It took us forever to actually get started. Between the three Laker girls helping us stretch and the nonstop announcements by a local news anchor, a couple of us were getting very impatient.

“You can’t sit with us” —–The Huskies

When we were allowed to start, the first thing I did was look for someone to be my pacer. My goal was to run under 8:00, between 7:40 and 7:50 since I knew I could reach that range based on how I’ve been doing at marathon team practices lately.

I was on my own for the first mile and a half in figuring out my right pace, but I eventually found my stride with an older, shorter woman with long, untied brown hair.

She was averaging an 8:08 pace, and I felt that if I pushed any further, me legs and lungs would not be able to sustain that for the next four miles. Knowing that running 7 something pace would not be a reality in this race was disappointing, but at least now I had a pacing buddy to help me from completely zoning out.

For the 10k, we had to run two loops around the stadium. There were at least two hills in one loop so running up inclines four times throughout this 10k was a challenge in itself. At the end of the day, I was happy with how things turned out. I averaged a 8:16/mi pace and ended up placing first in my age division! Funny thing was my pacing buddy also placed in her division. She ended up with a slightly faster time than I did because she took off in the last mile.

Race medals!

After the run, I paced a bit, chugged a bottle of water, and consumed more Power Crunch bar samples. I walked around the tents and picked up a free bag so I could FINALLY put my stuff somewhere. My bladder said many thank yous after that!

Free shampoo for dogs!

They had a cat/dog “fashion” show at the end so some fur babies could get some attention and hopefully a new home. I stepped on board the Catty Wagon instead, which was a mobile shelter for cats. I played with a curious little kitten for a while and then decided to head out of the Rose Bowl area into Pasadena for lunch. I didn’t have to worry about getting an Uber back because I was ok with taking the time to train/bus to lab. I had to stop there for a bit, but I wasn’t in a huge rush to get there.

Sage Organic in Pasadena

I didn’t have my β€œrestaurant list” on hand, so I wasn’t sure where I should head to once I got to Old Town Pasadena, but then I remembered that there was another Sage location I could check out. It had been a while since I paid them a visit in Culver City and Echo Park.

The Pasadena location’s storefront was quite small (bundled with other shops in a strip mall), and it could be easily missed if someone was not actively looking for it. Every table was empty except for one being occupied by runners from my race! Even the guy taking my order asked about the race since he noticed my bib and medals.

Inside Sage

The menu was just as overwhelming as I remembered, but I felt like having something colorful and filling (like a salad bowl with protein) with some extra crunch. When I saw that they had Dill Cheese Tostadas on the menu, I was sold then and there.

Dill Cheese Tostadas!

I only had to wait about 15 minutes for my food to arrive, and in the meantime I sipped on my water while trying to get pictures of the interior without scaring my racing brethren (haha). The guy who helped me at the counter brought over my plate, which had two small-sized tostadas topped with black beans, cojita cheese, veggies, verde sauce, and smooth avocado slices. There was also some nacho “cheese” on the side.


I tried to get everything all in one bite, but had to eat it layer by layer because it all fell apart. While the avocado was delicious and creamy, my favorite part was the hearty beans and crunchy tostada, despite being the size of the palm of my hand.

After lunch, I slowly made my way to lab, and then from there was more than ready to just go home and crash! I stopped by Trader Joe’s because I heard that they had a new (for them) RX Bar in stock…


Pumpkin Spice! I mentioned how in love I was with Blueberry a couple posts back, and this bar was just what I needed to fuel up with on my way home…especially since I’ve been devoid of my weekly bar box πŸ˜›

Cats or dogs?

Or pigs πŸ™‚ ?

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Time Needs to Like, Freeze for a Second

Time Needs to Like, Freeze for a Second

The past two and a half weeks or so have been a whirlwind! Each day has been non-stop busy for me, and while I’ve always preferred being busy over being bored, it can get pretty overwhelming when your list of things to-do never seems to end…

BUT, the food side of things have been pleasant (especially the pints!), and over the past two weekends, I got my fair share of vegan eats.

There was one day last week however when I was snacking after a long day, and a squirrel came very close to me, very hungry as well πŸ˜‰

Might be easier to go into detail if I break it down…

New Snack Attack:

I first tried Buff Bake spreads a couple months ago (their cookie flavor), and thought I’d give the white chocolate flavor a go. I spread it generously on a birthday cake cookie (β™₯β™₯β™₯β™₯) and it served as the perfect pre-run fuel. It definitely had a milder, sweeter taste than the cookie flavor I tried before, which had a thicker, drier protein aftertaste. This flavor still had a dryness to it if the oils weren’t mixed fully, but I would say it is the protein spread version of PB&Co’s WCW.

Buff Bake – White Chocolate on top of Birthday Cake Cookie

I’ve seen so many rave reviews for the Oh Yeah! One Almond Bliss bar, and when I saw it fully-stocked at my campus bookstore, I had to try it during one of my breaks from lab πŸ˜› . Upon the first bite, I could have mistaken it for an Almond Joy. I do find it funny how it has exactly three almonds at the surface though πŸ˜›

I loved it so much that I paired it with a macadamia cookie for a Thursday night snack plate. I melted both for about 20 seconds, and the bar came out warm and melty, while the cookie stayed put in its consistency. It was still a knock-out snack plate though πŸ˜‰

almond bliss
Oh Yeah! One Almond Bliss Bar
night snack plate
Winning on a Thursday πŸ˜‰

Pint Party till Infinity:

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trip to Sprouts, but I have had stellar ones. Trips that included deep discounts on soy yogurts, salad boxes, crockpot staples, and even Arctic Zero! Speaking of which, I was enlightened by my Dad that they are having a BOGO deal on them this week…

…and speaking of Enlightened…

I just had to grab and try both the Mint Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Caramel when I saw them on the freezer shelf during my last grocery trip. I did enjoy the earthy mint flavor of this pint:

Enlightened Mint Chocolate Chip

But Sea Salt Caramel absolutely took my breath away. Some would argue that the caramel swirls might be too sweet, but it was all too perfect for me…ahh, if they weren’t almost $6 a pint, I would have stocked up for sure.

Enlightened Sea Salt Caramel

For now, they are just weekend treats…maybe Sprouts should have a sale on these in the near future!

That same weekend, I cam across another Mint Chip, but this time it was Halo Top’s version.

Halo Top Mint Chocolate Chip

It wasn’t as bright blue/green as Enlightened’s, nor was it as minty, but Halo Top’s texture has always seemed to be just as creamy as the real ice cream guys’, and this flavor was no exception.

Now I just need to hunt down the Birthday Cake flavor…where are you?!

If you aren’t getting tired of my ice cream samplings just yet, my final share from these past two weeks was THIS amazing thing:

soymilk_cookiedough (1)
So Delicious Soymilk Cookie Dough Pint

When I stopped by the grocery store last Friday to pick up my pint for the night and to kick off the weekend, my favorite Snickerdoodle was not in stock. What was the next best thing with dough chunks mixed in? Obviously this guy.

As I make my way through So Delicious’ other dairy free pints, this Soymilk Cookie Dough flavor is occupying the #2 spot for now, and rightfully so!

Vegan ‘Ventures:

My weekend adventures were nothing out of the ordinary, but I was proud of myself for being able to allocate enough time for myself, even while still having to follow through with my other responsibilities.

One Veg World Inside Restaurant

On the same weekend I went to Sprouts, I stopped for lunch at One Veg World in Pasadena for a nutritious & delicious JACKFRUIT carnitas burrito.

Jackfruit “Carnitas” Burrito

It was apparently one of their newest menu additions, and while the size was small, the filling was juicy and flavorful. Brown rice + jackfruit + that mysteriously tasty vegan-friendly cream sauce was just a combination that can’t be beat! Oh, and the avocado made it even more refreshing πŸ˜‰

Brown rice mixed in!

Last weekend, I felt like I was in a tighter time crunch so I didn’t get too adventurous…I went to a tried-and-true favorite, just at a new-to-me location.

veggie grill YASSSS (1)

Nestled in a shopping complex in WeHo, I found another Veggie Grill I have yet to visit.

veggie grill YASSSS (3)
Typical Veggie Grill interior πŸ™‚

I used this visit as an opportunity to get the Mondo Nachos…something I’ve always had my eyes on, but was slightly fearful about getting because of the calorie content.. Something that I struggled with when I had an active eating disorder/was in limbo about recovery because I always wanted to “make it fit” but it never did when my “calorie rules” were strict.

veggie grill YASSSS (8)
This one garnered alotta likes on the ‘gram.

But I made up for that suffering this time around, and I actually, to my pleasant surprise, did not have second doubts when I placed my order. The nachos were soon at my table, and after taking the first bite and hearing that crunch, I couldn’t believe I held back from ordering this for so long…

veggie grill YASSSS (6)
Okay, just look at the guac…

The cheese, the soy bits, the guac,the crema…it was all so, so perfect. Maybe it was meant to be that I waited this long to have them? To stand as another moment of progress and accomplishment in my recovery journey?

Haha, I’m getting emotional over nachos —> typical food blogger right here πŸ˜›

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you don’t blog for a while and feel like you have to “catch up”?

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Halloween Eats

Halloween Eats

I honestly think Halloween was truly the last day of summer this year. The temps reached close to mid-80s here in LA, and it wasn’t until Daylight Savings kicked in that things started to feel much cooler and hinting at winter days ahead…

Regardless, I continued to do what I needed to do (lab) and do what I wanted to do (EAT) because to me, it felt just like any other Saturday. For some reason, Pasadena was calling my name, and so I hopped on the Gold Line to make it to lunch.

 California Chutney in Old Pasadena
California Chutney in Old Pasadena

California Chutney seemed like the perfect place to stop on by for lunch. When I had learned about their naan tacos, I knew I had to see what that food-fusion concept was all about.

 California Chutney inside.
California Chutney inside.

The restaurant is in a large space, and it’s relatively easy to order. There were puffy little naans warming up on a large hot surface, and at the counter, the menu was explained to me by one of the servers. There were naan tacos, rice plates, salad plates, and plenty of delicious-sounding sides. I chose to get two naan tacos, and I was given extra condiment cups to sample some other chutneys from the chutney bar πŸ™‚ .

 Chutney bar...
Chutney bar…

My two naan tacos came out fantastic—stuffed with chickpeas, paneer cheese cubes, kale, mango chutney, green onions, and tomato, I was more than ready to dig in!

 Two naan tacos with chickpeas, paneer and kale, green onions, and tomato. Need I say more?
Two naan tacos with chickpeas, paneer and kale, green onions, and tomato. Need I say more?

I didn’t eat it like a taco though. I attacked the fillings first, and ate the naan last, allowing it to absorb all the saucy flavors!

 Naan taco insides.
Naan taco insides.

After that satisfying lunch, I felt like putting all that food to walk and taking a stroll even though it was still a bajillion degrees outside. I ended up walking towards the town hall building, and noticed some unusual statues in the distance…

 Town hall building...but those heads?!
Town hall building…but those heads?!

Those heads certainly took me by surprise! I’ll have to get to the bottom of their significance some other time, since I wasn’t too curious that day to inquire about their presence further. Instead, I decided to head down south to Alhambra for dessert.

 CremeBee in Alhambra!
CremeBee in Alhambra!

A lot of my classmates from last year call Alhambra home, but I’m not sure if they have experienced the wonders of CremeBee yet…

 Soooo cute inside :3
Soooo cute inside :3

It’s like walking into a clear blue sky inside, and the temperature is set to a degree just as cool.

 Look at all those honey bears!
Look at all those honey bears!

CremeBee specializes in honey-infused frozen yogurt that can be topped with crazy cute toppings like wafer sticks, marshmallow clouds, Ferrero Rocher, and of course, cotton candy. I decided to get the Cloud 9, which comes with a head of blue cotton candy and marshmallow clouds, but I asked to have chocolate wafer sticks in place of the marshmallows (because of the gelatin).

 The Cloud 9 with Chocolate Wafer Sticks.
The Cloud 9 with Chocolate Wafer Sticks.

When my masterpiece was complete and ready to be devoured, I was handed a hand sanitizing wipe, which I thought was odd at first. I used it before pulling at the cotton candy though, and then realized it was for after I was done…when my fingers would be a sticky mess. What a total facepalm moment!

 So. much. honey.
So. much. honey.

I still enjoyed the frozen treat though. There was so much honey throughout!

 Spun Sugar <3
Spun Sugar <3

The best part of course was the cotton candy. It mixed quite well with the frozen yogurt, adding a fruity flavor to it. I couldn’t have cared less for the chocolate wafer sticks though, which try as they might just didn’t fit in with the light & airy vibe the yogurt, honey, and cotton candy all contributed to.

I ended up leaving East LA soon after, and stopped by Target before heading home. I ended up buying this new flavor to try later on that weekend from B&J’s, which includes BEER as an ingredient. There is no alcohol in it though, I triple checked!!

 Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale Pint
Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale Pint

When I got around to consuming it, I was less than enthused. It seemed to be not too far off from the flavor profile of the salted caramel core which was ok, but the beer flavor was slightly off-putting for me. Just another indication that I will never be a fan of alcoholic drinks I suppose!

 The ice cream doesn't contain alcohol, but the fact that I wasn't a fan of this flavor proves that beer and me will never get along. :P
The ice cream doesn’t contain alcohol, but the fact that I wasn’t a fan of this flavor proves that beer and me will never get along. πŸ˜›

So despite the lack of candy, I think I got my fill of sugar this Halloween! At least I did preface it all with some carb-o-licious “tacos”, and I’m gonna go ahead and count those bits of kale and tomato as part of my daily vegetable serving πŸ˜‰

Did you eat anything spectacularly sweet this Halloween?

California Chutney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Getting into the Fall Spirit: Help from Pumpkin & Ube

Getting into the Fall Spirit: Help from Pumpkin & Ube

Despite it STILL feeling like summer in LA, I have made my best attempt to make it seem more like fall…at least with the foods I eat!

Trader Joe’s makes this easy to do, since almost all of their featured new items right now are pumpkin/cinnamon/orange color-themed. During last weekend’s grocery trip, I left with a jar of Pumpkin Spice Cookie Butter, and two cups of Peanut Butter and Jelly Greek Yogurt.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
Trader Joe's Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfate Greek Yogurt
Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfate Greek Yogurt

The latter isn’t really “fall-themed”, but the color of the packaging reminded me of autumn leaves. Plus, when I mixed it as part of a weeknight proyo bowl and topped it with the pumpkin spice cookie butter, it could have easily been mistaken for a pumpkin or cinnamon-flavored greek yogurt!

 Proyo Bowl Left: Trader Joe's Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfate Greek Yogurt, protein powder, and TONS of coconut almond butter // Proyo Bowl Right: Blueberry soygurt, protein powder, and a generous portion of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
Proyo Bowl Left: Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt, protein powder, and TONS of coconut almond butter // Proyo Bowl Right: Blueberry soygurt, protein powder, and a generous portion of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter

But the true pumpkin favorite find as of late was the limited edition Quest bar flavor I was able to get a hold of. Honestly—the best purchase I’ve made from my campus bookstore, ever πŸ˜›

 I found it!
I found it!

After a suuuuper long day in lab (and an incredibly long week if we want to be specific!), finding the pumpkin pie Quest bar flavor on Friday night was just the treat I was looking for.

 So orange, so crispy, so beautiful!
So orange, so crispy, so beautiful!

I’ve seen lots of mixed reviews for this flavor, but I would say I am a proponent of this flavor. I personally liked the crunchy bits on the top, and the overall orange/pumpkin coating. It may have been too crumbly (I was spilling crumbs everywhere as I was walking :P), but I thought the bar stayed true to the Quest bar reputation of not tasting dry or chalky like most other protein bar brands. The bar also is 220 calories, which is higher than the usual flavors, but there’s gotta be a little wiggle room when designing a creative flavor πŸ˜‰

Over the weekend, I decided that I wanted—no, needed—to head over to any Sprouts for my grocery shopping this week, and since I had not paid a visit to Pasadena in a while, I decided to head over there for a bite to eat after my morning lab duties.

It still felt like a hot summer day, but I did my best to keep things cool as I made the ~1 hour trek over to Old Town Pasadena. UCLA had a home game that day I assume, because I was seeing Bruin t-shirts, and blue & gold all around me as I was walking to my tea time destination πŸ˜›

 Cafe 86's newest location in Old Town Pas.
Cafe 86’s newest location in Old Town Pas.

I learned about Cafe 86 a couple weeks back, but added it to my ever-growing foodie bucket list as a “someday” kind of item, since their only location at the time was in Chino. However, they recently opened a location slightly more west in Pasadena to my delight. So recent in fact, that I had to put in the location of the poke restaurant they are right behind because they aren’t recognized by Google Maps yet!

After being awkward with my camera phone outside the cafe, I continued my awkward-ness inside. It was hard being subtle…I had to pretend I was “looking at the menu” while I took some of the interior pics πŸ˜›

 Front counter area.
Front counter area.

Their baked goods selection rotate daily, and Saturday’s offering included Ube Dulche de Leche Flan cupcakes and Ube truffles. I was sort of hoping they would be offering their crumbled chip cookie, but only the cupcake and truffle were available. It was warm enough to also splurge on a boba milkshake or iced tea, but I wanted to balance out the sweetness so cold water sufficed.

 Baked goods with a key ingredient---UBE!
Baked goods with a key ingredient—UBE!

I found a seat in the corner, and marveled at the cozy atmosphere around me. Cafe 86 also offers free Wi-fi, so obviously this would be a good study spot for those who are able to concentrate in coffee shop/cafe settings.

 Cozy atmosphere here.
Cozy atmosphere here.

I tried the Ube Dulche de Leche Flan cupcake first, eating the flan on top separately.

 Ube Dulche de Leche Flan cupcake
Ube Dulche de Leche Flan cupcake

The flan layer was soft and creamy, and the texture reminded me of sliced mozzarella. The cake itself was a dark shade of purple, a reflection of the purple yam that made up a large percentage of it.

 Creamy flan layer, but dry ube cake :(
Creamy flan layer, but dry ube cake πŸ™

The cake itself was quite dry, and I suppose if eaten with the flan there would have been a balance, but there wasn’t much flan to go around in my opinion. The bottom of the cake was unusually sticky too.

Next was the Ube Truffle!

 Ube Truffle.
Ube Truffle.

I couldn’t tell if it was dusted in chocolate or crystallized sugar, but it seemed like the latter after I had to cut through it with a (plastic) knife.

 Shiny rock of a truffle!!
Shiny rock of a truffle!!

Again, the ube sparkled through, and its appearance reminded me of a purple crystal (amherst or something like that?)

So the truffle trumped the cupcake, and neither were overly sweet. Still, I sipped on several cups of water to tone down the sweetness that was there.

Even though October has just started, I feel like my goal to “make Fall happen” in a forever-sunny city is off to a great start. Speaking of which, my Sprouts trip led me to find some more fun, pumpkin-themed items! Operation: Pumpkin Everythang is a go πŸ˜‰ !

Have you been able to easily get into the Fall spirit?

Cafe 86 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Birthday Week!

Birthday Week!

It’s that time of year again—birthday week! We all know one day isn’t enough to celebrate the best event of the year, and so obviously having a week devoted to the occasion makes absolute sense πŸ˜‰

The week was filled with freebies…including a first-time freebie! I began the celebrations with a visit to Which Wich, a rival to Subway, and known for their unique sandwich toppings like crispy onion strings and dried cranberries!

It was my first time visiting a Which Wich location, and I probably would not have visited any time sooner if it had not been for my free ‘wich coupon! 

The friendly front.

Even though I stopped by around 5PM, the place was pretty empty. Even though it was located under a collection of lofts right above it, there didn’t seem to be that much of a demand for custom sandwiches on a weekday evening I suppose…


I needed some help getting started since it was my first visit after all. A friendly employee stepped out from the back to find me staring at the wall, and gave me some guidance on how to order. I first had to pick out a bag, which displayed a theme for what the sandwich would be based on, and then I had to color in the bubbles for what fill-ins I wanted in the sandwich.

Wall with the paper bags // I picked the vegetarian’ bag, and filled in circles for the things I wanted to include inside my sandwich.

I then handed the bag over to the employee who had helped me, and he assembled the sandwich while I waited at the end of the counter.

Two TVs on the wall, some newspapers…I guess you could have a good dine-in experience if you want!

I grabbed a plastic bag since I was taking this birthday ‘wich to go, and couldn’t wait to try it at home for dinner!

Convenient for the grab-and-go!

I could have eaten it by holding onto the foil and paper wrapping, but since I was at home, I thought it would feel more like a dinner when unwrapped and placed on a clean plate.


It was cut perfectly through the middle, diagonally of course.

My small 7″ Which Wich on skinny wheat, stuffed with artichoke hearts. Also included sauerkraut, BBQ sauce,  banana peppers, black olives, cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms, red onions, and tomatoes.

My base was artichoke hearts, with the other fill-ins just for show. The BBQ sauce tasted more like ketchup, but apparently it was vegan!

Artichoke heart, and other stuff.

I think for my first complimentary Which Wich, I did pretty good πŸ˜‰

The freebies continued that week with a free scoop from Baskin-Robbins. I ended up getting the Oreo Cake Batter flavor (this month’s featured flavor!), and had the patience to save it for after dinner. It made the perfect topping for my dessert proyo bowl that evening. 

Oreo Cake Batter Ice Cream on top of proyo!
Oreo Cake Batter Ice Cream on top of proyo!

Even though the ice cream scoop was melting at record-speed where the ice cream met the proyo, the flavors paired well together and I certainly felt a little melancholy when it was all gone. I was scraping at the sides of the bowl with my spoon!

But my favorite birthday freebie of the week was my free entree from Veggie Grill! I used it as an excuse to check out the latest location in Pasadena, one I had not paid a visit to until now!

 The front of VG, Pasadena----right across from Vitamin Shoppe in fact!!
The front of VG, Pasadena—-right across from Vitamin Shoppe in fact!!

Dad was in town for the weekend, and so I had a great time sharing the meal with him. We did have to take some time to glance over the menu of course, as usual.

 Summer menu & summer signage.
Summer menu & summer signage.
 A spacious interior with nice lighting. We found a table by the window which meant more light...obviouly great for picture-taking!
A spacious interior with nice lighting. We found a table by the window which meant more light…obviouly great for picture-taking!

There was a good turnout that evening, but despite it being busy, our food came out very quickly. I decided to finally try the VG-Cheeseburger, which was a good ol’ veggie burger with a beautifully melted slice of cheese on top of the patty. Three pickle slices were carefully placed on top, so I couldn’t pull a Bubble Bass and complain that they “forgot the pickles!!!” (<—Spongebob, anyone?)

 VG-Cheeseburger with a side of steamed kale.
VG-Cheeseburger with a side of steamed kale.

My Dad got one of the bowls, along with crispy cauliflower for us to share. I remember first trying it back when it was a promo item, but this time the sauce is served alongside the cauliflower, and now it’s up to you whether you want it glazed or not.

 Crispy Cauliflower: the vegetarian and vegan answer to popcorn chicken...
Crispy Cauliflower: the vegetarian and vegan answer to popcorn chicken…

So I definitely got my birthday’s worth in freebies, and once the weekend rolled around, I had a blast visiting even more new places and trying new foods with my Dad while he was here—more details to come!

And while the next item wasn’t exactly a freebie, I didn’t care because I thought I would never find it in the first place…


I found this limited edition guy in Haggen of all places! Along with other elusive flavors I thought I would not be able to find in my neck of the woods…it must have been that extra dose of birthday luck sticking around πŸ™‚

 Chocolate + PB ice creams---but I had to go digging for those brownie pieces and peanut butter 'gobs'.
Chocolate + PB ice creams—but I had to go digging for those brownie pieces and peanut butter ‘gobs’.

This flavor was amazing, and was a birthday surprise itself! There were so many peanut butter gobs, but not enough cookie dough pieces. In fact, I’m not sure if I even found any in the end πŸ˜› !

What are your favorite restaurant/store birthday freebies?

Click to add a blog post for Veggie Grill on Zomato

MTR: Week 12

MTR: Week 12

Wow, this week. It definitely started off with a challenge, but the thing I love about a challenging run is the feeling of accomplishment you get right after.

Sunday’s long run was my first with the team after a month hiatus. It was originally a 12 miler, but then was changed to a (confusing/winding/uphill) 13 miler in Pasadena. It was hard due to the fact that the first 6 miles were uphill, and I could feel my legs ache sooner than I would have liked. Many of us had to stop around mile 3 to check our phones for directions—but many in our pack got lost at some point. I was lucky enough to stick with two other girls for the majority of the run, especially when we were making precarious turns on roads near clifs. Yeah…

At least the views were grand and beautiful, I just can’t say the same about the feeling in my legs. The ball of my left foot was numb for the first couple miles, and then I started to feel a dull ache near my hip. I also really needed to make a bathroom stop, which only added to the not-so-swell mood I was feeling during the majority of the run. My crew and I ended up skipping out of four miles since we made it back to our starting point at mile 9, but I still wanted to get my four miles in—after a bathroom break of course πŸ˜‰ ! The three of us went out for a two mile out-and-back, but they left me after one mile, so I was on my own to complete the final three painful miles.

Since I did have my phone with me during the run, I took advantage of the opportunity and tried to distract myself by taking pictures mid-run:

“Highlights” from Sunday’s 13 Miler -> The directions that did not help us from getting lost // the first mile on the run // heading back from a 2 mile out-and-back after a 9 mile bathroom break // happy to see the overpass and finish!!

After regrouping with my team, I realized that I had a better experience than a lot of my other teammates. Two guys ended up in the heart of Glendale, without phones, and had to rely on a local fire station for water and a friendly biker for directions (who also happened to offer them money and food!!).

Well, at least it was an adventure! I also tried to keep things in perspective, thinking about a documentary I recently watched called Desert Runners. I was only running 13 miles, but I had to remind myself that there are people who put themselves through much more extreme conditions (the four deserts) and run 24-26 miles each day for 5-6 consecutive days. If one is capable of accomplishing that, I can deal with a not-so-fun 13 miler. It is just another step that has to be crossed in this marathon journey.

Sunday – LSD 13 miler group run at 10:05/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  5 mile morning solo run at 9:15/mi

Wednesday –  6 mile morning solo run at 9:36/mi

Thursday –  Rest

Friday –  5 mile morning solo run at 9:18/mi

Saturday –   Rest

Total Mileage ->  29 miles

Because of the increasing elevation for the first half of the long run, my pace was slower than usual. I gave myself a rest day on Monday to recuperate, but I still lifted weights. Tuesday and Wednesday were refreshing runs since I got to run in areas I have never ran before, due to the fact I was staying with my Dad as he was in town for business. For some reason, Wednesday’s was a particularly slow run. Even my splits were up and down and all over the place! I am glad I was able to squeeze in the run though—even at the chilly time of 6:30AM. Thursday was a much-needed rest day—even from lifiting—since I had some lab duties in the morning and came home feeling super tired. So tired, that I felt the need for an early evening nap. I was able to get in one more run for the week on Friday, and allowed myself a rest day again on Saturday, since I wanted to be in fresh shape for the 16 miler I had to run the next morning. Well, more on that in next week’s recap πŸ˜‰ 

LA (+ Friends) Part 2

LA (+ Friends) Part 2

On day 2 of my friends’ visit to LA, I went out for a short 3 miler while I took Friend #2 and Friend #1’s brother over to my apartment complex’s fitness room. My legs felt somewhat sore since I was running in some old shoes (whether I am breaking in new shoes, or wearing out old ones, my legs seem to be sore after either situation…).

We left for Union Station to take the Gold Line out to Pasadena, and made our way over to Intelligentsia Cafe for some pretentious coffee πŸ˜‰


Thanks to Google Maps, I led my friends through an alley and so we ended up entering the coffee shop from the back. The entrance already made it seem like we were entering an elite-only club πŸ˜›


Once inside, we were amazed by how big the coffee shop actually was.


One side was an alcoholic side (which was unstationed at the the time we came in, around noon), and of course, the busy coffee/tea/chocolates side which was closer to the actual front entrance.


We were all scrambling around, and making the frequent customers just looking to get their usual cup for the day feel antsy. My sister, Friend #1, and her brother found seats for us at an empty counter while Friend #2 and I contemplated over what kind of coffee blend we should each order.

 Cute mugs, but a tiny menu!
Cute mugs, but a tiny menu!

I decided on an Ethiopian black coffee with hints of honeysuckle, apricot, and almond butter, while Friend #2 got the Rwandan blend (I forgot what hints of flavor it had…). Our coffees were “supposedly” 12 oz., but they had to put the overflow into containers that looked like they were maple syrup jars! The rest of the gang got a cheeseboard to split.

 I had some of those plump craisins---soooo good :) !
I had some of those plump craisins—soooo good πŸ™‚ !
My Ethiopian coffee at the top, and my friend’s Rwandan coffee at the bottom with milk.

I finished all of the coffee in my mug, and part of the “maple syrup jar” coffee, but wasn’t able to drink it all. I could detect the smooth, buttery taste of my blend, but I could only handle so much of the bitterness—perhaps I should have added some more sweetener? They had their own Intelligensia-packaged sweetener (Natvia brand) , and you better believed I took some “for the road” πŸ˜‰ 

After our coffee break, we headed east on Colorado towards Vroman’s Bookstore since my sister and Friend #1 are major book fanatics. Apparently, it is the oldest bookstore in Southern California…

 The kitty collection at the bookstore!
The kitty collection at the bookstore!

We left the bookstore after a good amount of time had passed. To kill some more time, we went back down the road towards where the majority of the stores were. We made our way (window shopping) through Urban Outfitters, Paper Source, and Madewell before heading over to our dinner stop at Green Earth Vegan Cuisine.


We were the only group of people at the restaurant around 5pm on a weeknight, but that didn’t bother us. We were hungry, so no shame, haha. 

 Inside Green Earth Vegan Cuisine
Inside Green Earth Vegan Cuisine

For an appetizer, Friend #1 ordered the wontons.


For her meal, she got one of the burgers—which was so hefty on the lettuce, that I couldn’t tell what the actual burger was.


I got the Roast Beet Salad, but my favorite part of the dish was the grilled tofu. That, and the beets were the only redeeming qualities of the entire salad. Everything else seemed like it could have been poured in from a bulk bag of salad mix…which I wouldn’t doubt if it was.

Roasted garden beets, organic spring mix, carrots, cucumber, avocado, organic bean sprouts and sunflower shoots, and grilled tofu
Roasted garden beets, organic spring mix, carrots, cucumber, avocado, organic bean sprouts and sunflower shoots, and grilled tofu

Friend #2 got the Three Flavors, particularly for the eggplant. I remember getting a similar dish called the P.E.T. at another vegan restaurant in Pasadena. She wouldn’t stop raving about the eggplant, since she herself has not had success cooking with eggplant…yet πŸ˜‰ 

Pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, onion, sweet basil, red and green bell pepper, and king oyster mushroom with chef’s sauce 
Pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, onion, sweet basil, red and green bell pepper, and king oyster mushroom with chef’s sauce 

My sister got the Lasagne Di Vendure, which sounded pretty fancy but appeared to be a simple, homestyle-but-healthy kind of plate. She also had a whole bowl of toasted bread on the side. 

Lasagna with eggplant, zucchini, onion, broccoli, green and red bell pepper served with mashed potatoes and toasted bread (she got a whole bowl, unpictured)

Once dinner was eaten, my crew and I headed back to Memorial Park Station, but along the way, stopped for gelato. We joked about the guy behind the counter who kept insisting on not to get the green tea flavor (for some reason, he kept questioning my friends about their green tea choice!), were entertained by the brass band street performers, and had fun taking selfies on the train. Back at my apartment, we all got cozy in our PJs and watched a movie before falling asleep. Looks like Day 2 was another success, and a memorable one!

Have you ever had “pretentious” coffee? 

Intelligentsia Cafe on Urbanspoon Green Earth Vegan Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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